| by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

News Stories

Dear MIIS Community:

I am sure that many of you were still reeling from the news of the mass murder, motivated by a hateful racist ideology, in Buffalo, NY, when you heard that a shooter had killed several children at a grade school in Uvalde, TX. As I write, 19 children and two of their teachers are dead. Contemplating these back-to-back tragedies can be too much to bear. 

Too often in the recent past, I have been asked to publicly condemn acts of violence, intolerance, brutality, here at home and on the global stage. I say “too often” because these ugly episodes are unrelenting in their incidence. In between the tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde, a gunman opened fire in a church in Laguna Woods, CA. The global Middlebury community deplores and mourns the loss of innocent life in these mass shootings. And many of us reserve a special condemnation for a political culture that cynically and monotonously tells us that “nothing can be done” to prevent the likelihood that more mass shootings will occur in the future.

Do not forget: the work you do actively fights back against that nihilistic political culture, here and around the world. Our students and alumni, and all of you who have helped them along their path, seek to understand, mitigate and transform conflicts; to bridge divides of culture and language; to build shared prosperity.   

The tragedies in Buffalo, Laguna Woods and Uvalde – and in Bucha and Sanaa and beyond – cast a shadow over the joy that many of us experienced just days ago, when we celebrated the achievements of 259 graduates at our Spring 2022 Commencement exercise. But while they dampen our spirit, they cannot eliminate our commitment to a more just world. I encourage you to revisit the Commencement ceremony by watching the video of the ceremony, featuring the stirring and moving words of our keynote speaker Fatema Sumar and student speaker Meng (Barbara) Zheng.  

This is the last of these bi-weekly updates from my office in this format. COVID-related communications will be shared as needed. You can always consult our COVID policies and protocols, and archived updates, here .  Faculty and staff colleagues, please stay tuned for a new regular series of updates on the MIIS Business Plan.

Congratulations on all of your work this spring 2022 semester, and my best wishes for your endeavors this summer.

Jeff Dayton-Johnson
VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Institute